1) A huge win, but Browns are already focused on what's next
Baker Mayfield put on a headset shortly after Sunday's 49-38 win over the Cowboys and delivered a statement to the national audience that tuned in to one of the league's most entertaining games of the season.
Mayfield and the Browns were on the right end of the result, but the third-year quarterback wasn't up for much celebrating. Sure, he was delighted with the win, Cleveland's third in a row, but disappointed by how the final 15 minutes unfolded. The Browns saw a 27-point lead shrink to just a field goal in the blink of an eye before Odell Beckham Jr. sealed the victory with a 50-yard touchdown run.
In Mayfield's eyes, the highlight-reel run shouldn't have been necessary, and the joys of victory weren't enough to overshadow it. That's the mindset he and his Browns teammates displayed as they prepared to return to Cleveland with their first 3-1 start in 19 years.
"We let them back in the game," Mayfield said. "It's a great team. They are resilient. We've seen them come back against Atlanta earlier in the season, so it shouldn't have been a surprise to us. We've got to be able to put that away."
That was the statement.
It wasn't about the win, which was significant, or the history Cleveland made with some of its offensive fireworks. It was how the Browns were processing it even in the moments when it's permitted to be completely celebratory.
The Browns were already talking about how they would learn from the game and how they'd be better because of an ending that was much more dramatic than anticipated. They're determined not to let what's happened in years' past dictate what happens next.
"Finishing the first quarter 3-1 is well done by the guys, but it is a four-quarter game and it is a four-quarter season," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Once we watch the tape and try to get better after this win, the focus goes right back to the next opponent for next week. There is really no time to really spend much time thinking about it."
Mayfield, moments after his nationally televised interview, echoed his coach's sentiments in a video conference with local reporters. By the time the Browns return to work Monday, the focus will shift to how they can be even better against a much different, but equally challenging opponent in the Colts.
"I am proud of these guys for this first quarter of the season being 3-1. That speaks volumes to us after bouncing back after Week 1," Mayfield said. "We have to hit the reset button. We are onto the second quarter of the year, we have the Colts coming up and we have to continue to improve.
"This does not feel like last year one bit. We are going to continue to improve, and we are onto the second quarter of the year."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Dallas Cowboys
2. Browns await news from Chubb's MRI, send best thoughts his way
The Browns are awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the next course of action for RB Nick Chubb.
The Pro Bowl running back was lost for the game early in the second quarter when a Cowboys defender landed awkwardly on his leg during a pass play. Chubb walked off under his own power and straight to the locker room.
Chubb has never missed a game since he joined the Browns in 2018. He posted 43 yards Sunday, 21 of which coming on his first carry of the game, and remains the team leader with 335 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
In his absence, Cleveland's deep running back room helped the Browns rack up their most rushing yards (307) in a game since 2009.
"It is tough losing a guy like that. We love Nick. Everybody here loves Nick and the work he puts in, but this is a hard-working team," Mayfield said. "We had guys who were resilient today."
3. On a tough day against a tough opponent, defense makes 3 big opportunistic plays
The final numbers weren't pretty. The Browns were out-gained for the second straight week after surrendering a whopping 566 yards Sunday. Many of them came in Dallas' 24-point fourth quarter, which put Cleveland on the brink of completely losing a 27-point lead it carried into the final 15 minutes.
Still, the Browns won Sunday in large part because of their defense. Cleveland forced three more turnovers, giving it eight in the past two weeks, and every single one of them was, as Stefanski put it, "huge."
"Plus-three turnover margin is huge," Stefanski said. "Scoring points off of that obviously is huge."
Myles Garrett's strip-sack — his third in as many weeks — set up a short field for a Browns touchdown in the second quarter. Andrew Sendejo forced a fumble on the next possession, and Cleveland turned it into seven more points on the other end. And Denzel Ward's interception in the final minutes, his first of the season, officially ended Dallas' chances of pulling off a miraculous comeback.
Garrett sounded a lot like Mayfield as he described the areas Cleveland's defense can learn from a final quarter like Sunday's.
"We're complementary," Garrett said. "Definitely doing it in every phase but we are going to have some collapses. The end of that third quarter, the fourth quarter when they started to make that run, we as a defense got to be sturdy and make a stand. We can't allow them to keep driving down the field, getting those quick throws, those quick outs, slowing the clock down and putting the pressure on the offense like that to hold the ball for time of possession and have a score.
"We have to take that upon ourselves with a big lead to make those big plays."